Artemi Panarin to take leave of absence from Rangers
Mar 10, 2020; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) before the game between the Rangers and the Stars at the American Airlines Center.  Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Artemi Panarin to take leave of absence from Rangers after 'political hit piece' against him from Russia

Artemi Panarin will reportedly take a leave of absence from the New York Rangers in the aftermath of a political hit piece against him from Russia alleging that he beat up an 18-year-old girl in the country in 2011, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. 

Panarin recently voiced his opinion against Russian President Vladimir Putin and in support of his opposition, Alexei Navalny, in an Instagram post. He has been outspoken against Putin for a long time. In a 2019 interview, Panarin ripped Putin, saying, "I think he no longer understands what's right and what's wrong," among other things. 

According to Mollie Walker of the New York Post, the allegations against Panarin are coming from former NHLer and KHL coach Andrei Nazarov. 

Panarin is in his second season with the Rangers. He signed a seven-year, $81.5 million contract with the franchise in July 2019. In 14 games this season, he has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points.

It's unclear when or if Panarin will return to the team for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. 

Erin Walsh is a Boston sports fan through and through. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bridgewater State University and currently is in pursuit of her Master's Degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Follow her on Twitter @ewalsh90.

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